Some Days of Sun

Today was sunny. And today, at noon, the sun was on our cottage for about 30 minutes. The days are getting longer too. When we arrived at the beginning of January, it was pitch black by 5pm. Now we get an extra 30 minutes of daytime.

The holiday cottage that we are in is on the outskirts of Nailsworth. The small town of Nailsworth is in a river valley, with the “downtown” area in the valley and most of the residential area on the western slope. Across the valley on the eastern slope are smaller villages: Watledge, Pinfarthings, Theescombe, Amberley. We look across at them; they look at us. Today we walked across the valley to Amberley and had a good look around (easy 40 minute walk – downhill, then uphill).

January 24, the sun makes it to our hillside
January 24, the sun makes it to our hillside

These villages are high up on the hillside, just below the beautiful Minchinhampton Commons. From Amberley, it is a short walk on a footpath to the commons. We saw a lot of people out walking, many with dogs. There is also a golf course up there, but it is not your typical manicured course and instead is very wild looking. You hardly notice that it is a golf course. I am not a fan of golf courses because of all the water and chemicals it takes to keep them going, but if they were all like this one, I would not dislike them as much. The golfers stop hitting balls when there are walkers nearby, but I am not sure if they are being polite or if we have the right of way.

Our cottage is in Windsoredge, a village on a steep northern facing slope at the edge of Nailsworth. We look out towards beautiful countryside: Bown Hill and Woodchester Park in the valley that we face and across the Nailsworth valley to Amberley. We are away from the slightly builtup area of Nailsworth. Our area is all older cottages and houses; there is a modern new development at the top of our hill, but we do not see it.

However, we are on the shady side of the hill. I look out our upper windows and see the sun on Amberley across the valley or on Bisley, which sits above Stroud. Bisley is ALWAYS in sun! But, until today, the sun never hits our cottage or yard or any of the homes nearby. Our hillside is a little too steep and the hill blocks the low winter sun. We knew this before booking the cottage and figured there is no sun in winter, so who cares?

The photo is taken from Amberley looking across the Nailsworth valley to the villages north of us (Inchbrook, Woodchester, South Woodchester). On the left you see Windsoredge on the northern edge of Nailsworth. You can see the sun is hitting most parts of the valley but not our hillside.

Nailsworth Valley
Nailsworth Valley

Today we had 30 minutes of sun, but wanted more, so we walked to the sunny side. The public footpaths in this area are great. From our cottage we can do endless walking. In a few minutes we are out in open countryside. So far we have done most of our hikes right from the cottage, not needing to drive to walking areas. Today we walked along the lanes to a footpath that takes you straight to the bottom of the valley, where the A46 road runs north to Stroud or south to Bath. It is not such a busy road and we dash across to Dunkirk Mills.

We walk beside the old cloth mill, then into an old tunnel that goes under the old railway. In this valley, everything old has become new. The mill is now apartments, the railway line is gone and has been turned into a walk/cycle path. The weaver’s cottages probably house people running Internet businesses.

From the tunnel we take a footpath up the hill until we get to Dunkirk Manor, a huge beautifully restored house about half way up the hill. I imagine the Dunkirk Mills owners lived there, looking down at their mill. Dunkirk Manor has also been turned into apartments.

From the Manor we followed narrow lanes through more cottages, then footpaths through the woods, until we came to Amberley, sitting almost at the top of the hillside. We had a lovely lunch at the Amberley Inn. This is a hotel/pub/restaurant and would be a great place to stay if you are visiting the area for a few days. It is perched on the edge of the small village of Amberley, just below the Minchinhampton Commons, looking out over the Nailworth valley. You can even see Selsey Commons across the valley where we did a wonderful hike on Sunday.

After lunch we walked around Amberley, then walked along the edge of the commons to Pinfarthings, where we followed footpaths back down the hillside to Dunkirk Mills and home. We got a nice amount of sun. The day was mild; we needed our winter coats but did not need hats, scarves and gloves. It was perfect walking weather and a day like this makes up for a few days of rain.

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

2 thoughts on “Some Days of Sun”

  1. Hello, Pauline and Steve. This is Hugh (WestSussexBird). I’ve just been browsing your blog and your lovely photos. Glad you’re having such a good time.

    Looking at the Ordnance Survey map for the area around Nailsworth, it must be great walking country, as you say. There can’t be many places with so many footpaths. Have you been in Woodchester Park?

  2. Hi Hugh! There are tons of walking paths here, more than I would have expected. This whole area was full of mills 100 – 200 years ago and the people here made a system of paths between all the villages and the mills. We can do very good walks right from the house. The entrance to Woodchester Park (east entrance, not open to cars), is a 10 minute (muddy) walk from here. That was one of the first hikes we did, but we have not been back in since. Yesterday we were about to do that walk again, but it started pouring and we were lazy.

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